Clinic in Warren County seeking money from Vance taxpayers

Jun. 12, 2013 @ 07:04 PM

The Vance County commissioners spent a long evening on Tuesday fine-tuning the 2013-2014 county budget.

The commissioners heard a request for $50,000 by representatives of the Warren County Free Clinic. Dr. Cosmos George, chairman of the board; Dr. James Kenney, medical director; and Mary Somerville, executive director, appeared to present information and answer questions.

George said that of the 9,000 uninsured residents of Vance and Warren counties 4,900 are enrolled at the clinic. Of those, 48 percent are Vance County residents.

He said the average cost to serve a patient at the clinic is $178 a year. He compared this with the cost of $2,500 for one visit to a hospital emergency room, meaning that the clinic’s services produce savings in hospital costs. He presented data that indicated the operation of the free clinic reduced the number of visits to hospital emergency rooms.

Commissioners Terry Garrison, Eddie Wright and Deborah Brown indicated their support for the request. Commissioner Archie Taylor said he was leaning toward support but felt more discussion is needed. Commissioners Dan Brummitt and Gordon Wilder agreed that more discussion is needed.

County Manager Jerry Ayscue walked the commissioners through budgets for county agencies with little discussion for most of them.

The Department of Social Services was an exception. Ayscue pointed out that most services provided by the agency are mandated. He said costs of public assistance and workman’s compensation are rising. Garrison said that 45 percent of the county’s population qualifies for some form of public assistance.

Brian Short, director of Vance County emergency operations, answered questions about the 911 system and emergency services. The cost is split 50/50 between the county and the City of Henderson, he said, and the county administers the service.

Brown asked what efforts Short is making to assure diversity on the staff.

“We let people know that no doors are closed to them,” Short said. He indicated that five of the nine part-time employees are minority.

Taylor asked if he was actively seeking Hispanics. Short said he was not opposed to hiring them but he wasn’t targeting them. He said to handle 911 calls from Spanish speakers, they use the AT&T Language Line.

Ayscue said an additional $211,000 for capital outlay and $64,000 in current expenses to improve security at schools was requested by Vance County Schools. Wilder asked if it could be done for less. He said the commissioners need to sit down with their counterparts on the board of education to exchange information.

The commissioners looked at funding for other agencies, including non-profit organizations.

Brown said, “I would like for us to get audit reports from all non-profits we support in this budget.”

Ayscue said, “I’ll get on it in the morning,” adding, “We may not get them overnight.”

Chairman Tommy Hester set a meeting for 6 p.m. next Monday to continue the analysis of the budget. A budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year must be adopted by July 1.

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.